The latest twist in Big 12 expansion comes in a way that you may not have initially expected.
A group of 25 LGBT advocacy organizations have signed a letter in which they ask the Big 12 conference to not consider BYU when it comes to expanding the conference. The reasoning is because they detail what they believe to be discriminatory policies by the university.
From FOX Sports’ Stewart Mandel:
On Monday, Athlete Ally, a non-profit that conducts LGBT awareness campaigns for sports leagues, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights, sent a letter to Big 12 administrators detailing what they believe are discriminatory policies by BYU, a religious institution owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
In the letter addressed to commissioner Bob Bowlsby, the authors write in part: “BYU … actively and openly discriminates against its LGBT students and staff. It provides no protections for LGBT students … Given BYU’s homophobic, biphobic and transphobic policies and practices, BYU should not be rewarded with Big 12 membership.”
According to Mandel, the conference’s 10 university presidents were copied on the letter in addition to Bob Bowlsby.
Mandel notes that BYU’s Honor Code has a section that discusses “homosexual behavior” where a same-sex relationship is a violation:
“Homosexual behavior is inappropriate and violates the Honor Code,” it reads. “Homosexual behavior includes not only sexual relations between members of the same sex, but all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings.”
Under that definition, an openly gay individual cannot be a BYU coach or athlete unless that person practices chastity. BYU students found to be in violation of the Honor Code can be suspended or dismissed.
BYU spokesperson Carri Jenkins told FOX Sports the following in response:
“BYU welcomes as full members of the university community all whose conduct meets university standards. We are very clear and open about our honor code, which all students understand and commit to when they apply for admission. One’s stated sexual orientation is not an issue.”
It will be interesting to see how this story develops, as the BYU Honor Code is a big part of the university. It has been in place since 1940.